Read an Excerpt
one Go! Go! Go!" Amy Candler shrieked along with the rest of the girls on her team as the relay runner carrying the baton raced toward her. The runner on the other team had just passed the baton to the last girl in their lane. "Come on, Carrie!" Amy yelled. P.E. was almost over, and this was the final event in a series of competitions held that day. Amy's side was ahead, but the other team would be tied if it won the relay race. As the fi- nal runner on her team, Amy stood poised to snatch the baton as soon as Carrie came within snatching distance. Finally the girl reached her. Amy could hear her teammates screaming, "Go, Amy!" as she took off. Without much effort, she caught up to her opponent and passed her. It looked like Amy was going to cruise to the finish line, but as soon as she caught a flash of the gym teacher's startled expression, Amy knew she was running way too fast. Faster than any normal twelve-year-old girl. Immediately she slowed down and hoped the teacher would just think her eyes had been playing tricks on her. But Amy didn't calculate her change of pace well, and now the girl from the opposing team was passing her. Amy tried to adjust her speed so she could move ahead again, but as she tried to figure out exactly how fast she should run, the other girl reached the finish line. Of course, Amy's teammates didn't blame Carrie, who had slowed them down in the first place, for their loss. "Good going, Amy," someone mumbled sarcastically, and she didn't miss the dirty looks a couple of others shot her. Amy's shoulders slumped and she ducked her head as the class straggled back to the locker room. She knew that by the time they'd showered and dressed, everyone would have forgotten that she'd been the last runner on the losing team. Still, she felt crummy. Lately it seemed like this kind of thing was always happening to her. She'd be all set to do her best, which was always better than anyone else could achieve, when she'd hear her mother's voice, way in the back of her mind, warning her. Don't show off, Amy. It's too dangerous. You can't let anyone see what you're capable of doing. You must not let anyone know what you are. Just be average. She'd heard those words a zillion times, and she knew her mother was right. But it wasn't easy to be average. Just that morning, in algebra, the teacher had scrawled a problem on the board and asked for a volunteer to solve it. Amy's hand had shot up automatically--until she remembered that she'd solved the previous problem. It was too late. The teacher had seen her hand and called on her. Amy fumbled and stuttered and blurted out an answer so unbelievably wrong that the teacher was appalled and one classmate laughed out loud. "It's so embarrassing," Amy complained to her best friend, Tasha Morgan, as they walked home from school that afternoon. "It's hard being ordinary. When I try not to be the best, I end up being the worst." Tasha wasn't terribly sympathetic. "Am I supposed to feel sorry for you because you're not ordinary?" "I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me!" "Sure you are. You're complaining because you're perfect. How do you think that makes me feel?" Amy was utterly bewildered. "Tasha, what are you talking about?" "You are intellectually and physically superior to me, and you're still not happy with yourself. So that means I should feel even worse about me." Amy groaned. She knew where this was coming from. "Tasha, have you been reading that stupid self-help book again?" "It's not stupid," Tasha answered. "And don't belittle my efforts." "Huh?" Tasha reached into her bag and pulled out How to Be Your Own Goddess. Opening it, she read aloud. " 'As you move forward toward the goal of worshipping your inner self, there will be people who will mock and belittle your efforts to realize the goddess that dwells within you. Until you have reached your goal, avoid these people. Do not permit them to assert or impose their attitudes. They are not superior to you.' " "Tasha! I've never said I was superior to you!" "I know," Tasha acknowledged. "But you are. I'm an ordinary twelve-year-old girl. You're a genetically engineered clone. You're stronger than I am, you're quicker than I am, you're better than me in every possible way." "That's not my fault," Amy said. "There's nothing I can do about it. It's the way I was born. If you can call getting cooked up in a laboratory being born," she added. "It doesn't matter," Tasha said. "Whether you mean to or not, you make me feel inferior." "Oh, that's silly." Tasha glanced at her. "See? Now you say I'm silly for having feelings." "Don't be stupid." "And now you're calling me stupid," Tasha said sadly. "Amy, I don't think we should spend so much time together." "What?" "According to this book, I need to separate my- self from friends who make me feel . . . well, not like a goddess." Amy couldn't believe what she was hearing. "So you're saying we're not best friends anymore?" "Oh, no, it's nothing like that," Tasha quickly assured her. "We just need to take a break. I need some time to gather my inner resources and acknowledge myself as the goddess that I am." Personally, Amy thought this whole business sounded like utter nonsense, but she held her tongue. "For how long?" "I'm not sure. A week, maybe two." "We're not going to speak to each other for two weeks?" Tasha checked the instructions in her book. "We can speak," she said finally. "We just can't hang out." "Starting when?" Amy wanted to know. They'd reached the block where they both lived. Tasha bit her lip. "Now?" She frowned. "See, there I go again, asking your permission. I have to take positive action. We start now." She stuck the book back in her bag and gave Amy a quick hug. "It's all for the best. We'll be even better friends, because I'll be feeling really good about myself. See ya!" She ran off toward her house. Amy stared after her and tried not to feel glum. She'd known Tasha for a long time; they'd been best friends forever, and she knew how Tasha could get caught up in one fad or another. She sincerely doubted this separation would last two weeks.